After making three quarters of a billion dollars the first time around it was inevitable more editions of C.S. Lewis’ seven book Narnia series would find their way to the screen. So here is Prince Caspian which jumps ahead 1300 years ( in Narnian time) to reveal a very different world than the one portrayed in The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe. As the press notes correctly say “The lion hasn’t been heard from for 1 000 years The white witch is dead and the wardrobe is gone.” Now--as the kings and queens of Narnia (aka the Pevensies) are transported to the land from a World War II England train station--they discover the magical land just isn’t what it used to be. It has been taken over by an evil and aggressive band of humans called the Telmarines led by the unforgiving Lord Miraz (Sergio Castellitto). All the talking animals and mythical creatures are now just wallpaper. Just a year (in human time) after their first trip the four Pevensie siblings find themselves summoned back to help the dashing heir to the Narnian throne Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) defeat his uncle. With the assistance of a few characters like the dwarf Trumkin (Peter Dinklage) and Black Dwarf Nikabrik (Warwick Davis)--plus the swashbuckling chatterbox talking mouse Reepicheep (voiced by Eddie Izzard)--they set about bringing Narnia back to all its former glory.
Returning just a bit older and wiser the four young actors who play the Pevensie brothers and sisters are in fine form with each getting a chance to display their own quirky talents. Georgie Henley returns as Lucy the only one able to channel the legendary lion Aslan and Anna Popplewell is back as the proper older sister Susan. As for the boys William Moseley is on board again as Peter who summons up the courage to lead the fight against the Telmarines while Skandar Keynes’ Edmund--despite his betrayal in the first film--finds enough backbone this time to redeem himself. The new human characters are led by British stage actor Ben Barnes who is commanding as Caspian the man who would be King but must stave off Spanish film star Sergio Castellitto’s vicious Lord Miraz. The wonderful Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent) is an amusing Trumkin while Eddie Izzard offers the perfect voice for Reepicheep. And even though it appeared we wouldn’t be hearing from them again Tilda Swinton’s presumed dead White Witch and Liam Neeson’s eloquent voicing of the Lion Aslan make cameo appearances as well. The large supporting cast is too numerous to name everyone but a special shout-out is also in order for Willow’s Warwick Davis as Nikabrik. Shrek director Andrew Adamson proved in the first Chronicles of Narnia--with all its minotaurs centaurs and other assortment of creatures--that an animation background comes in handy. With Prince Caspian he confirms that promise displaying nifty live-action skills particularly in the battle scenes. The full force of his abilities are put to test in the ultimate confrontation with the Telmarines and what he gets on screen can be favorably compared to something straight out of Braveheart. The stakes in the story this time have been ramped up and so has the fighting. It’s probably safe to say that after 140 minutes of this stuff you will come out with serious battle fatigue but it’s all thrilling to watch with some breathtaking special effects that for lack of a better description are awesome. With all the hardware effects and CGI on view it would be easy for the characters to get lost in the mix but Adamson clearly knows where the heart of his story lies. If this sequel proves anything it’s that the magic fun unforgettable people and creatures are the reasons we will keep coming back to Narnia.